Cyprus Enclaved

In the aftermath of the Turkish invasion in 1974, about 20,000 people - mainly Greek Cypriots including just over a thousand Maronites - found themselves cut off behind enemy lines in their villages in the north-eastern Karpass peninsula and in the Maronite villages west of Kyrenia town.

This group of people known as the enclaved remained in their villages in the hope that, following the ceasefire, they would be able, unperturbed, to carry on with their normal way of life. Unfortunately their hopes were soon frustrated. The illegal Turkish occupation regime adopted a policy of oppression, human rights violation and harassment, in an effort to drive these people out of their homes and properties.

By December 1974, 12,000 people had chosen to remain in their homes in the areas occupied by the Turkish army, instead of moving to the Government-controlled part of Cyprus. Over the years, these people became victims of a policy of ethnic cleansing by the Turkish occupying forces. The denial of their basic human rights by the occupiers, the harsh living conditions and the constant harassment they were forced to endure, had the consequence that many of them abandoned their homes and properties in the occupied area and crossed over to the Government - controlled area as displaced persons. The result of these human rights abuses was that the number of the enclaved gradually declined and, sadly, now only 546 people, mostly elderly, remain in the occupied area. A humanitarian review undertaken by the UN Peace-Keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) in 1995 (S/1995/1020), documents in detail the situation. It observes: 'The Greek Cypriots of Karpass are now a small minority in a part of Cyprus, which was once almost totally Greek Cypriot, and they are subjected to a system whose long-term aim appears to be directed towards the eventual extinction of the Greek Cypriot community in Karpass'.

The Government of Cyprus brought up this serious matter during negotiations with the Turkish Cypriot side, held under the auspices of the United Nations on 2 August 1975 in Vienna. Under mounting international pressure, the Turkish Cypriot leader Mr Denktash signed, in the presence of the then UN Secretary-General Mr Kurt Waldheim, a humanitarian agreement, the implementation of which would improve the living conditions of the enclaved.

The agreement, known as the Vienna III agreement, stipulated that the Greek Cypriots and Maronites, who had remained in the occupied part of Cyprus, would be free to stay, be reunited with the families and given every help to lead a normal life, including facilities for education and for the practice of their religion, as well as medical care by doctors of their own community. The United Nations would have free and normal access to Greek Cypriot villages and habitations in the north. The Turkish side, however, did not implement any of the measures it had agreed to. The enclaved are still denied access to their doctors, no secondary schools are allowed to operate and in the two existing primary schools the textbooks are severely censored. Moreover, the enclaved are not allowed freedom of movement. They are restricted to their villages and immediate surroundings and members of families living in the Government-controlled area, who are over 18-year-old, are not allowed to visit them. The UN Secretary-General has repeatedly noted in his reports to the Security Council that the Greek Cypriots and Maronites in the northern part of the island are far from leading the normal life they were promised under the agreement reached between the two sides at Vienna.

The European Court of Human Rights finds Turkey guilty of human rights violations of the enclaved - The European Court of Human Rights has repeatedly found Turkey guilty of human rights violations during and after the invasion and occupation of the northern part of Cyprus. In its judgment on May 10, 2001, in the case of Cyprus V. Turkey (application no.25781/94),the Court found Turkey guilty, by sixteen votes to one (the Turkish vote), of 14 violations of the European Convention of Human Rights. Out of these, seven violations concerned the living conditions of the enclaved people in the Turkish occupied area of Cyprus.

More specifically, the Court held that Turkey committed the following violations:

  • a violation of Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion) in respect of Greek Cypriots living in northern Cyprus, concerning the effects of restrictions on freedom of movement which limited access to places of worship and participation in other aspects of religious life.
  • a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) in respect of Greek Cypriots living in northern Cyprus in so far as school-books destined for use in their primary school were subject to excessive measures of censorship.
  • a continuing violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 in respect of Greek Cypriots living in northern Cyprus in that their right to the peaceful enjoyment of their possessions was not secured in case of their permanent departure from that territory and in that, in case of death, inheritance rights of relatives living in southern Cyprus were not recognised.
  • a violation of Article 2 of Protocol No. 1 (right to education) in respect of Greek Cypriots living in northern Cyprus in so far as no appropriate secondary-school facilities were available to them.
  • a violation of Article 3 in that the Greek Cypriots living in the Karpass area of northern Cyprus had been subjected to discrimination amounting to degrading treatment.
  • a violation of Article 8 concerning the right of Greek Cypriots living in northern Cyprus to respect for their private and family life and to respect for their home.
  • a violation of Article 13 by reason of the absence, as a matter of practice, of remedies in respect of interferences by the authorities with the rights of Greek Cypriots living in northern Cyprus under Articles 3, 8, 9 and 10 of the Convention and Articles 1 and 2 of Protocol No. 1.

PACE adopts Resolution for the enclaved condemning Turkey and T/C occupation regime - On 24 June 2003, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a resolution condemning Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot occupation regime for violations of the rights and freedoms of the enclaved. Resolution 1333 (2003) was adopted, with an overwhelming majority, following a presentation and joint debate of the report of PACE’s Rapporteur on the Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the northern part of Cyprus, Swiss MP Mr Dick Marty.

In Resolution 1333 (2003), PACE expresses its extreme concern and shock over the status and living conditions imposed upon the Greek Cypriot and Maronite communities living in the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus and insists that “the Turkish Cypriot administration controlling the northern part of the island, as well as Turkey which assumes de facto legal co-responsibility in this part of the island, cease all humiliation of the Greek and Maronite communities and put an end to the climate of intimidation”. The Assembly further demands that the occupation regime and Turkey end the dispossessions affecting members of these communities, ensure freedom of education and worship for Orthodox Christians and Maronites, end the restrictions on movement across the demarcation line, grant all inhabitants the right to an effective remedy, ensure equal access to medical care and permit the communities to freely choose their representatives themselves. The resolution also conveys the Assembly’s agreement with the conclusions of the European Court of Human Rights in its aforementioned Cyprus v. Turkey judgment establishing violations of the human rights of the Greek Cypriot and Maronite communities living in the Turkish-occupied areas. It concludes by expressing the position that, as history has shown,

“the different social, political, religious, cultural and linguistic constituents present on the island are perfectly capable of living together in peace and harmony”.

Source: Press And Information Office, Republic Of Cyprus, 2005